Extracurricular activities like working on the school paper keep Palmetto High School junior Kristen Coke a very busy girl. Last year, she was the paper’s copy editor and this year she is the focus editor.
“I’ve been working on the newspaper since I was a sophomore,” Coke says. “I was the first sophomore ever to be named an editor.”
Students are not usually given editorial positions so early in their newspaper careers, but halfway through the year Coke was named copy editor. She did well enough to be named Newspaper Student of the Year for the 10th grade.
Coke has accumulated about 500 community service hours even though she has been busy with the paper. She is vice president- elect of Interact, a community service club.
“We do beach clean-ups and toy drives,” she says. “We combined with another club called O Ambassadors. They did the Panthers Got Talent to raise the money needed to build a well (in a third world country).”
Coke is also involved in her church, Central Presbyterian, as a youth deacon.
“Our church youth does a lot of community service,” she says, “including feeding the homeless.”
They have also visited the elderly at the Palace and Coke has helped raise money for the church by working at Central’s annual pumpkin patch.
“I volunteer there every year and help unload pumpkins,” she says. “I help the kids pick out the pumpkins. I love working with the little kids.”
Working with children is something Coke does as a volunteer at Vacation Bible School. She teaches them songs and participates in various youth activities.
“This year I worked with pre-school children,” Coke says.
She also works with high school students when she volunteers at the school library with her parents.
“They were the ones who initially had the idea to open the library on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” she says. “It’s kind of a family effort; my little sister comes along,”
Coke helps students find books and checks them out. She also sets things up if kids need to use the computers or with print and copy material.
Coke is also involved with Woman of Tomorrow, a mentoring club led by the school librarian.
“We are the ones being mentored,” she says. “There are two business women who come in and they tell us how to be successful.”
Coke is involved with the Student Council at Palmetto. This year she is secretary of student involvement. She’s also a member of the English Honor Society, the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and she is the lab coordinator for the Science National Honor Society. “I’m also in Thespians,” she says.
Last year she appeared in Bye Bye Birdie. This year she hopes to be in more productions.
Sports are also in the mix for Coke and she hopes to be on the badminton team this year.
Coke attended Southwood Middle for the piano program, but decided not to pursue piano in high school because she’s not planning a career in music.
Coke says she’s thinking about college, but she hasn’t made a decision on which school she will attend or on her major course of study. However, she is interested in a school in New England, or maybe New York University.
“I just want to go to the college that would be best for me,” she says.